Friday, February 10, 2012

Filling the void: Local architect takes on Memorial Bridge with Photoshop

Here's a little something that that is fun for a Friday. Some fun we had with photos of the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge is being featured in the local media. Here is the interview we did with Jenn Stevens of the Spolight Magazine at Portsmouth Herald.

February 10, 2012 1:56 PM
Some folks see the gaping hole where the Memorial Bridge center span stood for 89 years until Feb. 8, and feel a void. For Ron Reilly, of Dover, the bridge deconstruction was a call to duty. Photoshop duty.
Reilly, a designer and in the architectural field for more than 20 years, and principal of Reilly Design based in Dover, couldn't pass up the chance at creation, and fun. If you haven't already seen his photographs through the frequent sharing on a certain social media platform that rhymes with lacenook, check them out, and enjoy this little Q&A.

Spotlight: Is that Godzilla you've got going between the Memorial Bridge towers?
Reillly: Yes, that's Godzilla.
Spotlight: Which did you do first, Godzilla or the airplane and what specific type of airplane is that?
REILLY: The first one was the plane. The plane is a “modified” Coast Guard C130 - I looked it up. The pontoons are totally fake. Which I figured most people would probably guess. I found that image online somewhere. Some people questioned whether that plane could actually fit so I looked it up. C130's wingspan is 132 feet and the center gap of the bridge is 302 feet. So feasible, yes. Plausible? Not likely. Well, impossible since that plane would never be a float plane, which makes it fun. A former colleague inspired the Godzilla image. She has said the plane didn't look ‘real' but “if it was Godzilla walking up the river it would be more believable.” So I took that as a challenge to humor her.

SPOTLIGHT: Where did you get the original photo? How long did it take you to do? Did you use Photoshop? Are you a Photoshop expert?
REILLY: I saw the original picture of the bridge without the center span that my friend Angela Sprignuoli posted to her Facebook wall, and I thought it would be fun to play with the photo. I'm not a Photoshop ‘expert' but use it everyday in my work. These images probably took a total of an hour. Godzilla was more complicated.
SPOTLIGHT: Does this harken back to the artist Bill Paarlberg's work at all (King Kong climbing the North Church?) Are you familiar with his monster series of drawings?

REILLY: I LOVE Bill Paarlberg's work! I've never met him but was familiar with his King Kong Market Square image and the lobster at the Wentworth. He's also done some beautiful architectural renderings. Totally forgot about the Godzilla one. So hopefully he might see this as an homage to that.

SPOTLIGHT: When did you first post them? Can you tell if they've gone viral?
REILLY: I posted them Thursday afternoon. I think they've made the rounds pretty well. I've heard from friends that they're seeing a lot of people sharing it or reposting.

SPOTLIGHT: Why did you do it?
REILLY: I really did it I guess, to lighten the mood for everyone sad about the bridge going away. I too am sad to see it go. I'd even like to do some design concepts to put into that same photo of what I'd like to see built there. Totally for fun.

SPOTLIGHT: Do you think it will help business? Or folks' moods?
REILLY: This was all about making people's day! Just for the fun of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Building designer aims high at Reilly Studios

Reprint from the Portsmouth Herald

Building designer aims high at Reilly Studios

Designer Ron Reilly, owner of Reilly Studios in Dover, works
with institutions across the country that are seeking to modernize
their look with environments that are comfortable and customer-friendly.

September 21, 2010 

DOVER — After years of collaborating with some of the leading architectural firms on the Seacoast, designer Ron Reilly is grabbing the attention of financial institutions across the country that are seeking to modernize their look and create environments that are comfortable and customer-friendly.

Reilly has 20 years of experience designing spaces for a range of clients from the hospitality and retail industries to individuals. Having specialized in financial retail design for nearly 10 years, his firm has further developed its reach and portfolio over the past 12 months. Reilly has been traveling as far away as Alaska to work with institutions like Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.

"This recent growth has been gratifying," said Reilly, who has operated Reilly Studios at 1 Washington Center in Dover since 2006. "And while I consider myself the ideal collaborator, whether it is with an individual, a corporation or an architectural firm, I think my talents are particularly well-suited to the financial sector."
Such spaces, Reilly said, need to have flow and accessibility.

"The customer expects great service, privacy and needs to feel comfortable," he said. "When someone enters any kind of financial institution, they need to instinctively know where to go, even if it is a new branch. My designs combine the best of our experience in hospitality, retail and interiors to facilitate that."

Reilly said he starts with a simple premise: To understand the client's brand. He said he is adept at maintaining the core values of a client's brand when creating the look and feel, while bringing his unique flair to each project.
"The key is wanting your clients to retain their voice and vision," he said. "They want me to respect their brand, while also offering suggestions that can strengthen the value they have in the marketplace.

"That added value can often be found in the environment inside a building. A logo may offer brand identity, and of course the exterior of a building needs to look pleasing and unique, but if you also design interiors that function well and look great, that is something that will strengthen a customer's loyalty to a particular brand."
In a recent project for WSFS Bank in Delaware, Reilly designed a new branch prototype that is brighter, more open and operates more efficiently. The flexible design can be built in different sizes, creates a more contemporary environment, and is more appealing to both employees and customers, he said.

Reilly continues to work with some of the leading architectural firms in New England.

"One of the overlooked qualities of living in this area is that we have architects that are helping to create a 21st century look for New England, while maintaining the core values of its historic past," he said. "When you walk through Portsmouth for example, you will see many new buildings, but the personality of the city has not changed. That's because we have architects and designers who know and respect that history, but who are also willing to try new ideas."

One example is the contemporary design Reilly did for the renovation of 111 Maplewood Ave., former home of the Portsmouth Herald, with Destefano Architects.

"I'm pleased to be a part of these projects and will continue to be a part of that process," he said.
Reilly is starting new projects in places such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

"I understand and can meet the challenges of every project from inception to completion," he said. "This process is so complex, you have to stay vigilant through each phase. What I try to do is combine the practical and the elegant. These are two things our man-made environments truly need."

At a glance

Reilly Studios
Owner: Ron Reilly
Address: 1 Washington Center, Dover
Phone: 343-2298


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Customer Expererience: better create a good one

As Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s long-time partner and VP of Berkshire Hathaway, once said -You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end. … Everything is a design problem. Maybe problem is not the right word? Maybe we should all should consider these not ‘problems,’ but opportunities? Opportunities for improvement. When it comes to customer experiences this is always true. We design environments to provide great customer experiences. As designers we’d like to think that our environments are the biggest thing to contribute to that experience. But realistically we know it’s just the backdrop or the stage for the players to fulfill on the promise of a great show, the experience.

Sometimes we forget that the things that are free and easiest to do, are the very things owners and management fail to do well. The first thing we must all consider is what is the promise we’re making to our audience or, our brand? If you’re a restaurant is the food the thing you feel is what sets you apart? If a store, is it your products? If you’re car company it’s got to be the cars. But what is it about your cars? Price? Design? Quality? You get the point.

A few observations from our experiences that we hope might offer some insight into what can be done to make all of our experiences a little better. Some sales associates think it better to overwhelm us with “help.” It is important to recognize the type of shopper you’re dealing with. Some shoppers are ‘self-shoppers’ who know what they’re looking for and are happy to seek it out on their own. Some shoppers, usually with the confused look on their face, do need help. There’s nothing worse than walking through a store especially a large one only to be accosted by every associate asking if “there’s something I can help you find?” I’ve left stores without what I needed after half a dozen did so. Or what is with the question at check-out “so did you find everything you were looking for?” I found myself standing there with a puzzled look on my face and wondering – did she mean in the store, in general, or in life? Seriously? This is the same store that 13 people asked if they could help me find something and here I am at the cash-wrap with all my stuff – you tell me. Ok, again, you get the point. In my opinion wouldn’t it be better to just let customers know that “if there’s anything I can help you find just let one of our associates know.” This is why I’ve only ever shopped for a car on Sunday -when they’re closed. Of course the flip-side to this is the associate who just couldn’t be bothered. No one has to tell you how to deal with this problem.

In bars or restaurants it’s often hard to gauge how much service is enough versus the over zealous server who genuinely means well. The best bartenders, in my opinion, are those who are attentive and available but never constantly on top of you. Bartenders are professionals and great ones hard to find. Owners of bars and restaurants who don’t understand this do so at their peril. People will frequent an establishment usually because the servers make them comfortable, remember their names, and their friends as well as the drinks they like,. A bar with a great design, good wine or martini list, excellent food can often find itself empty because they over-think it. Sometimes they play the wrong music during dinner, or too loud. Maybe the food’s great but just takes too long to get it. Or maybe the appetizer list is lacking what people really want? It’s important to find out what it is your customers really want and give it to them.

Did you ever see the popular television show “Undercover Boss”? While the premise to some may seem contrived, it really is a valuable tool and one that more owners and management should utilize. This is often why they use ‘secret’ shoppers. When we design environments for banks, for example we always sit down first with a range of people who work at the bank to find out who they are and how they think. I’m often shocked to find when I ask upper management if they’re ever really experienced how their branches work or what the experience is from their customers’, and employee’s point of view they really haven’t any idea. They’re never really seen their environment with “customer eyes.” Now this of course can be impossible for a CEO or a Senior VP to go into a branch unnoticed. But I always recommend they just experience the environment for themselves without actually interacting with staff. Sit in every seat in the place and see what the customer sees. Stand where tellers stand. Sit in the break room. The feedback we’ve gotten from them after this experience is invaluable – for us as designers and more importantly for them. I suggest owners and senior managers all do this. AND do this for your competition. There’s a lot to learn out there from just experiencing and studying what works. As designers we do this all the time. Sometimes the best lessons aren’t just what works but often what doesn’t.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Breathing new life into a tired building.

Recycle! Renovate not replace! With all the talk about "green buildings" and LEED certification, sometimes the best way to achieve these goals or similar results is to renovate an existing building and not build a new one.
Rendering of proposed renovation

A good example of this is a building we participated in the design of in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Once the headquarters for the Portsmouth Herald, the new owners sought to find new tenants for the building. Part of the challenge was the dated look of the building and its lack of character. Frankly the building was just ugly and didn't allow for any real natural light inside and wasn't much to look at outside.

The directive was to "breathe new life into the building by creating a more contemporary, brighter building, that would attract new tenants, and be a better gateway building into the city" since it sits on one of the major routes into the downtown. Flexibility was also important. The goal was to attract not only commercial office tenants but potential retail tenants as well.

Existing building
The original design concept was to enlarge the existing window openings! This would not only create great retail windows if those were desired, but would also allow natural daylight to find its way into the heart of the building.
Early concept sketches
The other need was for an entry that had more prominence. This also gave us an opportunity to add a more contemporary look to the building and introduce more "high tech" materials.
By saving the building we were able to reduce the amount of waste that would've been brought to landfills. The new windows are highly efficient and allow much greater daylighting. The new building systems are much more efficient. And the building is starting to fill up with new tenants.

We hope you'll agree that the end result is a vast improvement.

Architect of record: Destefano Architects


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smarter Branching Strategy for Banks and Credit Unions

In today’s tough economic climate banks and credit unions need to find a way to leverage the “Network Effect" of multiple locations to boost deposits and find new customers and members. They need to do this by implementing a “Smarter Branching Strategy.”

Today there are a host of ways you can do your banking. While there are options online or on mobile devices to do much of your banking 92% of customers still use bank branches once a month. 85% of online banking customers still use the branch once a month.

Given the need to provide the convenience of more branches for your customers and members, there needs to be a smart growth strategy. In the current economic climate it is more important than ever to grow in a way that best control not only capital costs, but operating costs, and therefore minimize risk.

Currently one of the best options for growing branch networks is through the deployment of in-line or storefront branches. Since these are typically leased so they don’t require large investments in up front capital. They also allow for flexibility brought on by changes in an under-performing market.

Given the size of these branches, typically 1500-2500 square feet, design considerations should be made to leverage technology to provide for a more efficient operating model. Branch design layouts should also provide for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Staff functions should be designed around an activity “core” rather than the conventional model separating and spreading out the functions. Institutions should also consider leveraging technology like Teller Cash Recyclers, which can speed up transactions, keep money secure and eliminate the need for teller drawer storage and reconciling.

One of the best ways to achieve this smaller branch quickly and efficiently is with a company like Branch Development Group and their Novobranch Packaged Retail Delivery System utilizing the time tested retail model of limiting the actual construction to those areas necessary by code, or the program, such as offices or secure rooms. The rest of the branch is then “fit-out” by bringing in all of the finish materials, flooring, millwork, fixtures, and specialty lighting over just a couple days time. Construction times are greatly reduced getting you into the branch up to 70% faster than a conventionally built standalone branch. 
Reilly Studios was fortunate to have collaborated again with Tim Ryan and Branch Development Group on the designs and packaged retail systems to be provided by Novobranch for financial institutions nationwide looking to cost-effectively expand their networks. 
For more information go to:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Think Snow!

While here in the northeast we're not getting any snow this week, our friends and family in the Mid-Atlantic states are getting up to 2 feet of snow! We've had a couple friends of ours express interest in the "mountain style" architecture we do. I think people are drawn to this style of home and its construction because of its romance and 'genuineness.' This style of architecture is reminiscent of old pioneer architecture of the west. Built by hand from materials from the very sites on which they were to be built. Kind of makes them, by today's standards, the ultimate "green home" in a way huh?


Perhaps the other reason people find themselves drawn to this style is the romantic idea of escaping to a remote cabin in the woods or on a mountaintop. Sort of a resort vacation in their own sanctuary. Whatever the reason we love doing this type of home. Maybe its our way of escaping to a mountaintop once in a while too?